Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park

Everglades National Park is the third-largest national park in the lower states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. The park really has two kinds of seasons - wet season and dry season. The dry season runs from December to April, with pleasant weather and almost no mosquitoes. Due to the retreat of water, wildlife also concentrates in the same time. This is one of the best places to photograph birds!

Shark Valley Visitor Center

If there is one place that you can visit in Everglades, Shark Valley Visitor Center is the place to go! There is a 15-mile paved road that can be traveled by tram rides, bicycles or walking starting at the visitor center. I strongly recommend not to take the tram ride, but instead, rent a bike, so you visit it at your own pace. Along the road, you can see alligators, herons, egrets, and hawks. The landscape changes dramatically as you travel along the whole 15-mile road. To get good quality of photography time, expect that it will take half a day.

This is a very very very popular place. Parking will be full early in busy weeks (e.g., Christmas week). The best way is to park outside along the road and walk in.

Biking on the paved road is popular, especially in the dry season. Expect to wait for lines for bike rental.

Sunset on Shark Valley Road

This is one of the most epic sunsets I've ever seen. Taken only a few hours before we end the trip. Given only limited time and the pressure to catch the flight, we parked along the road and took this shot. A policeman stopped and asked me whether I caused any traffic accidents, and was kind enough to let me finish my shooting!
Egret. Birds here generally are less sensitive to people around them, which means you don't need an 800mm lens to capture a shot like this. :)
Great Blue Heron
This is another kind of landscape you can see on the paved road.
Red-shouldered Hawk. Hawks are less common to see than egrets and herons. But with some patience, it's not that hard to spot them. Another reason to take a self-paced trip on this road.
Overlook from the Observation Tower. The observation tower is at the halfway point of the trail providing panoramic views.

Anhinga Trail

Anhinga trail is my second most favorite place to visit in Everglades. It's a 0.8-mile boardwalk wind through a sawgrass marsh. Besides of alligators, herons, egrets, you can also see beautiful anhingas. Since anhinga doesn't have waterproof feathers, every time after it dives to catch fish, it needs to spread wings to have the feathers fanned open to dry feathers.

An Anhinga Spreading Wings. Shooting a photo like this takes some patience and luck. Anhingas usually rest on those shrubs, so there are usually a lot of background noises around the birds, often time blocking parts of the birds.
An Anhinga Spreading Wings
Anhinga Trail Boardwalk
Twilight at Anhinga Trail. After the sunsets, most people leave - best time to take a photo like this.
Twilight at Anhinga Trail. I stayed super low to take this photo, which attracted some people wondering if I saw something interesting in the water. :)

Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Preserve is located northwest to the Everglades National Park. The Turner River Rd runs across the National Preserve is another excellent place to see alligators and birds.

Alligators are abundant on this road. Expect to see them in the water as well as bathing the sun along the road!
Wood Stork, a type of wading birds, is considered as threatened in the US.
Cypress Trees


Wakodahatchee Wetlands

Wakodahatchee Wetlands is actually a park outside of Everglades located in Delray Beach. This is a trendy destination for visitors so expect waiting lines for limited parking space. There is a short boardwalk trail crossing between open water pond areas and islands. Various wildlife can be seen here within a short distance, including herons, egrets, cormorants, anhinga, turtles, etc.

Double-crested cormorant, like Anhinga, feeds on fish and have to dry their feathers after spending time in the water.
Lizard. We actually saw another huge lizard resting right on the boardwalk trail.
Water Ponds. This is definitely a beautiful park to visit!
Boardwalk Trail
Boardwalk Trail

Biscayne National Park

95% of Biscayne National Park is covered by water, and the only way to access the main parts of the park is by boat. However, it is still possible to get a glance of the park by visiting Convoy Point and the Dante Fascell Visitor Center.

Twilight at Convoy Point
Sunset at Convoy Point


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